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NORTH WALES RAILWAY.

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HOUSE OF COMMONS.—THURSDAY,…

JSUB-DIVISION OF POPULOUS…

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SUB-DIVISION OF POPULOUS PARISHES. Lord ASHLEY moved that an address be presented to Her Ma- jesty, praying her to appoint a commission to inquire into the practicability and mode of subdividing, into distinct and independ- ent parishes, for all ecclesiastical purposes, the densely peopled parishes in England and Wales, in such manner that the popula- tion of each, except in particular cases, shall not exceed 4,000 souls. He was convinced that the parochial system could not be carried out in its efficacy under the present system. Many of the parishes had greatly outgrown the capabilities of the incumbents to attend to their spiritual wants. Not only did he not demand money from the public purse, but he repudiated the idea of look- ing to that quarter for money (hear). He might, then, be asked where the tunds were to come from with which to endow the new benefices which he would have created. He looked, first, to exist- ing revenues next, to the result of the labours of the commission recently appointed to inquire into the management of Church lands and, lastly, to the greatly stimulated and increased muni- ficence of the Church of England. Mr. J. P. WOOD seconded the motion. Lord J. RUSSELL agreed with his noble friend, that it would not be advisable to ask for the application of public money for the purpose. He concurred with him, that means might be found within the Church herself for accomplishing, to some extent, the object in view. He did not see any objection whatever to the ap- pointment of a commission, and he considered the community greatly indebted to his noble friend (cheers). Mr. H UME was of opinion that if the condition of the country were really such as had been described, it would be the duty of the Government to deal with the subject themselves. But he denied the premises of the noble lord (Lord Ashley) he denied that planting churches and appointing clergymen would gain the objects of the noble lord. The fault was in the want of attention on the part of the Chnrch which existed. Since the churches in Bethnal-green parish had been built the distress had been just as great as before. If he understood the noble lord aright, it was proposed to distribute the church-rates and other revenues of pa- rishes, so that each ctergyman of a district should have a portion thereof. When they looked more particularly into the state of the Church they would find much more to remedy than what the noble lord had mentioned. Church-rates were public property, When it was proposed to remove the Church-rates, the reply was that they could not be supplied in any other way. The noble lord now said, the generosity and liberality of the Church of England had never been tested. Would the House agree to the principle of giving four clergymen to a parish of 16,1;00 inhabitants, when the noble lord never once mentioned the name of a Dissenter, as if there were not Dissenters in the country, as if he were addressing the House of Commons when the Conformity Act existed ? Were they to have a church for every 4,000 inhabitants of whom only 40 might belong to the Church of England ? Could anything be more absurd P It would be more becoming were the noble lord to make the Church a little more perfect. Pluralities ought to be abolished (hear, hear) but only 43 members had voted with him (Mr. Hume) when he proposed such a measure. He had always thought that the friends of the Church were its greatest enemies. Sinecures were an abomination and it was an abomination that one man should hold several livings. The noble lord had spoken of this measure as tending to improve the physical condition of the people. That should be advanced rather by the removal of oppressive, unjust, and unequal taxation. A great deal was im- plied in the consent of the Crown intimated by the noble lord at the head of the Government when the Dissenters were left out of view altogether, it appeared as if an insult was offered to that part of the population. When the House heard ragged schools spoken of, they heard nothing said of what the Dissenters had done for education ("no"). The Dissenters had done more to promote education than all the churches. He recollected when it was held by a majority of the Church of England that education was a dan- gerous thing. He disapproved of a proceeding by which it was held out that relief could be obtained only by building churches and appointing clergymen rather than by attending to more rati- onal measures. The noble lord proposed to deal with 279 parishes only, which were the largest. But was there more destitution, in respect of religion and education, in larger than in smaller pa- rishes P In Manchester, for example, more people attended church, and could read and write, than in the small parishes which the noble lord approved. lIe (Mr. Hume) would propose an amendment, after the word ,c population," t ) insert the words "belonging to the Church of England," and he should further propose to add the words, and further, to inquire into the best mode of putting an end to all ecclesiastical sinecures and plurali- ties, and to unite parishes, where practicable and advantageous." Mr. HEALD (a Wesleyan), though not himself a member of the Church, was interested in her welfare. He thought that the House and country were under great obligations to the noble lord for bringing forward this motion.. The spiritual wants of the population had never yet been overtaken by the-Church and Non- contormist combined. (Hear.) Mr. BRIGHT forgave the opinions expressed in the first part of the hon. member's speech, for the sake of the facts stated towards its close. It was a proof of a changed state of feeling in the House of Commons with reference to these subjects that the noble lord, in making his statement, which certainly possessed some interest, was obiiged to declare that it was not his intention to ask for a vote of money to carry out his plan. Notwithstanding the noble lord's disclaimer, however, it was not impossible that the Com- missioners might come down without a flourishing report, and, without any reference to Dissenters, recommend that Parliament should make a grant of public money. If he were a member of the Church of England, which he was thankful for not beingâ(a laugh)-he should probably receive the noble lord's plan with more favour; but as it was, he did not rise to firict fault. with it, although he might quarrel with some of its details. The noble lord was mistaken in supposing that under the system which he wished to establish clergymen would become acauainted with the condition of the population in their districts. The nature of the clergyman's education, his habits and tone of thinkingâat vari- ance with that of the mass of his parishioners upon almost all public questionsârendered it impossible that any sympathy should exist between them. The noble lord stated that the labouring classes in St. Pancras did not go to church. The same might be said of the same classes all over the country. They went to chapel a great deal more than to church, although they did not go there as much as he should like them to go. But the time was not far distant when the members of both Houses of Parliament did not make the going to chnrch a point of importance. The habit of going to church, and, indeed, morality and religion, developed to their present extent, were of comparativety recent date It was not to be supposed that the labouring classes, surrounded as they were by unfavourable circumstances, could be induced by any measures which that House might adopt at once to attend church, or to feel the same interest in the subject as those who had long recognised the influence of morality and religion. The hon. mem- ber proceeded to refer to a calcuiiition which he had drawn up re- specting what he called the clergy power" of England and Wales, and by which he made it appear that the total number of clergymen, including dignitaries and heads of colleges in holy orders, and counting each clergyman for two who had two livings â (a laugh)âamounted to 10,800, It was a fact that there were more than 3,000 clergymen of the Chnrch who had no duties 9 p whatever to»perform. Deducting pluralists, and taking the popu- lation at 18,000,000, there would be one clergyman for every 1,142 persons. But 3,000,000 of perS0I15, representing a popula- tion of 4,500.000, attended Dissenting chapels, and threfore it might be said that there was one clergy man for every 856 of the population who could be claimed as belonging to the Church. It wouid operate beneficially and accord with the Wd-vs of many friends of the Church to consolidate some of the small livings. The clergy power was very unequally distributed, being weakest where the manufacturing power was strongest and the population most numerous. In the manufacturing districts the majority of the places of worship belonged to Dissenters, and had been erected by voluntary contributions. Taking the cotton and woollen dis- tricts of Lancashire and Yorkshire "together the chapels exceeded the churches by 2,914; the Dissenting Sunday-schools exceeded those of the Church by 328; the Dissenting Suaday-sciiooi teachers exceeded the Church Sunday-school teachers by 18.700, and the Dissenting Sunday-school pupils exceeded those of the church by 42,000. (Hear.) Instead of spiritual destitution in creasing with the increase of population in those districts, it diminished. The population of Lancashire had increased 148 per cent. since 1801, and of the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire by which he supposed was meant the West Riding, 104 percent; but during the same period the increase of places of worship was more than 240 per cent. The last was not a fact to show that the noble loid's motion should not be carried, but to show that it was a mistake to suppose that that extraordinary destitution existed which some people imagined where the church had not been able to extend its efforts. He admitted that the people within the pale of the church were fettered by the ministering of the clergy, by the building and endowing of churches, but they could not be justified in maintaining 500 churches in Suffolk, 699 in Norfolk, and 675 in Lincolnshire, if so many churches were wanted else- where. With regard to money, the hon. gentleman the member for Oxford said the other night that church funds were state funds. (The hon. member was understood to deny this.) He was sorry the hon. gentleman retracted that statement, for if the funds of the church were state funds they ought to be appropriated to the purposes of the church, so as to make it most efficient. If they had £ 150,000 a-year amongst the dignitaries of the church, and another E150,000 a-year amongst the deans and chaptersâmen who appeared to make a very gentlemanly living of it, though he never could understand what they did for their moneyâit appeared to him that it would be well to apply a portion of it to the objects of the noble lord's measure. But there was a question with which hardly that House could cope. Of the livings of which he had spoken more than 5,000 were in the hands of private individuals. It was a great misfortune that that system had grown up. It was a difficult thing to cope with but the time was coming when the matter would be viewed in a very different light from that in which it had been hitherto regarded, and when Parliament would find sortie way of getting out of the difficulty. He wished to give one word of advice to the noble lord, who, he thought, was too sangUitle. He believed that no effort of Parliament could bring back the great body of the English people to live under any priesthood of the church which that house could establish. He believed that the attention of Parliament must be turned to getting out of the difficulty of a state establishment, which had under its administration some £ 4,000,0(10 or £ 5,00(1,000,âof having a church so framed, so organised, that it must disappoint all the expectations of its most conscientious adherents, of whom he be- lieved the noble lord to be one, and must be at the same time an object of political contention in almost every part of the country (hear). He had no hostility to the church as an establishment,â he never had said one word against the members of it because they were members of it,ânor against its dogmas or principles, and he only ventured to speak of it because it was much more a political than a religious question in that House (hear, hear). He thought whenever questions of this kind arose he might be permitted to state what the Nonconformists were doing, and to show how far he believed the present organisation of the church and its con- nexion with the State were a state of things that could not be long endured, and would not fulfil those requirements which such per- sons as the noble lord expected at its hands.

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